How to Talk to a Sound Guy at a venue

No I will not add more guitar to the mix.

No I will not add more guitar to the mix.

How can you tell the difference between the sound guy and the lighting guy? Easy. The sound guy can also do lights. The sound guy can also make or break your sound, though, so he or she (the best sound guys are women) is a great person to have a good relationship with, especially for us users in search of soundboard leads for our recordings. Here are a few little tips on how to get in good with your venue’s sound guy.

The best thing you can do is be on time, have all your cables and gear, and be personable. You don’t have to kiss anyone’s ass, but you definitely don’t want to walk in like you own the place either. There are plenty of folks in this business, even at the lowest levels, who think their pants are the fanciest, and it gets pretty old if you work in a venue.

Know your sound guy. What does he want?

Sound guys want the same things every other human beings want. They want to do good work in a reasonable amount of time with as little fuss as possible. They are typically not impressed with any kind of shenanigans, which has led some people to conclude that sound guys are naturally grumpy people. This isn’t always true. Some of them were born quite happy, but became grumpy over time.

I’m kidding. Sound guys are normal people, but they deal with lots of bands all the time, and like I said above, artists have been known to act like their pants are super fancy.

Choose your moment

I worked with a sound guy once on tour who told me he never wore baseball caps until he started working sound. When we got to a venue he’d go behind the console and spend a few minutes looking at it, familiarizing himself with it, and zeroing out the eqs in preparation for sound check. He would ignore any attempts to get his attention during this period, with a ball cap pulled low over his eyes so eye contact from the stage was impossible. When he was ready, he’d look up.

I can totally understand this behavior because I don’t like being interrupted either. I don’t think anyone does. So, if you’re going to have a chat with your sound guy about getting some outs off the board for recordings, choose your moment wisely.

Probably the best moment to tell the sound guy that you’d like a couple of leads off the board is the moment you arrive at the venue, which should be right on time if not a few minutes early. You’re most likely to be well received if you let people know ahead of time what’s going on.

Be prepared to take no for an answer

Sometimes you might get a “no.” Maybe the board doesn’t have two spare outs to give you, or maybe the sound guy doesn’t have time to mess with it, or maybe he’s just a grumpy old goat who doesn’t like pleasing people. Whatever the case, cables off the board for recording are nice to have, but they’re not the artist’s right to have.

If you let your sound guy know ahead of time that you’d like outs from the board if possible, and if you do your best to not be a primadonna hassle, nine times out of ten your sound guy is gonna do his or her best to help you out.

Sound guys of the world, please help us make this document as helpful as possible by adding your thoughts! You’re awesome and we love you.

One response to “How to Talk to a Sound Guy at a venue

  1. How to talk to a sound guy? SLOWLY!

    Seriously though, as a sound guy, if you follow the advice above, I would be much more likely to go out of my way to help you out. Even something as simple as remembering my name when asking for something goes a long way to show me that you care.

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